OPLC chiefs admit concern over media centre futures
The legacy use of the Olympic Broadcast and Media Centres are causing the most concern for the team charged with making a commercial success of the venues after the 2012 Games.
Baroness Ford and Andrew Altman, chair and chief executive of the Olympic Park Legacy Company, made the admission when they were questioned by the London Assembly this morning.
Finding anchor tenants for the huge buildings could prove difficult, simply because of their scale. Ideas mooted for the broadcast centre include using it as an indoor ski facility, with job creation the main aim of legacy use.
Baroness Ford said: "We're unlikely to get a single anchor tenant for the broadcast centre. It's the most difficult ask on the Park, but we're working hard on it."
Mr Altman added: "With the IBC and the IMC the challenge is the scale of the buildings. The IPC is 250,000sq ft and is likely to be turned into offices. The IBC is 650,000sq ft, a very large space to fill. We have tested the market for expressions of interest, hence the range of ideas we have had. We haven't sought to discourage anyone.
"Our over-riding issue is generating employment in the Park. No decision has been made yet, we're getting ideas and then we'll take them to the next phase. The key is getting anchors, and we'd love to have a media, research or scientific anchor tenant. We've had some interest but it's still early."
The Olympic Stadium had no shortage of interest when it came to finding a tenant. West Ham United and Newham Council were named as the preferred bidders by the OPLC last month, although Baroness Ford revealed it was still far from a done deal. She also dismissed the idea of Leyton Orient taking over the hockey stadium.
She said: "We made it clear to the chairman of Leyton Orient about the use of the hockey stadium. It will be reconfigured in legacy, and won't be a 15,000 capacity stadium. It's inconceivable to put two football stadiums in the Olympic Park. This is land that's been earmarked for public space."
Mr Altman outlined the progress that has been made since the Assembly questioned them last year.
He said: "There are three phases of our plan. Last year was about getting organised and getting the OPLC set up, this year it's about getting partners, and post-2012 it will be the execution phase. We're now taking tenders from operators for things like the Aquatics Centre and the Orbit."
Baroness Ford confirmed that the £600million debt the OPLC inherited from when it was created has been resolved, its masterplan for the future of the Park has been successfully revised, while the Government's £220million grant under the comprehensive spending review has secured the post-Olympic conversion of the Park.
"That's very good news," said Baroness Ford. "It means we can transform the Park and put in all the necessary infrastructure, and we're delighted about that."
The first legacy venues are likely to be open to the public from summer 2013, with the rest - including the main Stadium and the Aquatic Centre - to follow in 2014.